Where do you come from?

The other week Violet posted about her kids and their family experiences (and the parenting experiences she and Coffee have had and will have).

And as I read it, I did a mental comparison — nope, that’s not me. Nope, that, either. It started with the quote from the commenter who said she filters all her life experiences through the circumstance of having been adopted. Hmm. Like much I’ve read about adoption in general, other people’s adoptions, adoption theory, etc., reading that was about as familiar as reading about medieval monks or Maasai tribespeople. We don’t have a whole lot in common.

Reading the post left me pondering and making something of a mental list of adoption circumstances. For example, Violet’s kids each have different circumstances:

Oldest One — Old enough to not only have memories of his biological family, but good memories of that life prior to things unraveling.

Middle One — Old enough to have memories of his biological family, but not good ones. Most “family” memories will be with his foster family, and, now, his new adoptive family.

Little One — Too young to really remember his biological family, either good or bad. Most of his memories are of the foster family they lived with. Will have the fewest conflicts (I suspect) with accepting their adoptive family as his “real” family.

Right, so none of those situations reflect my own. And the list continues…

The Boys’ older brother — won’t go into details, but it’s different yet again from the younger three.

My brother — In foster care until he was two months old. No memory of biological family or foster families, but I do believe the first two months without bonding affected him.

Me — Adopted at one week old right out of the hospital. No foster care, not known if there was any exposure to the biological family. Probably not.

Mary’s kids — Adopted from China after living for several years in orphanages.

My cousins and one of the women I used to work with — Adopted “health Anglo infants” locally.

And really, those are the tip of the iceberg. Even the adoptions most similar to my own — my cousin’s daughter, for example — are almost completely unlike my own. Adoptions are legally “open” now. My cousins’ know who their baby’s biological mother is. They’ve met her. They know about her life and her pregnancy and what she’s been up to since. If she has any more children that are given up for adoption, my cousins get “first dibs” on those babies. I can understand people wanting access to all that information, but at the same time it seems very strange to me.

I can’t help but wonder how any kind of adoption theory can exist at all. It feels to me like there are no two sets of circumstances alike. If you don’t have a data set, how can you analyze? To me, because all adoption circumstances are different, they sort of cancel each other out, so being adopted doesn’t make you much more “unique” than being born does. The group in question is as varied as “everybody”.

Violet’s eldest son’s biological family is inextricably a part of him. I, on the other hand, read this and think “…huh?”:

“One may have been too young to vocalize, but not too young to realize what has happened.”

Hell, given the number of times in my life I’ve been told I’m the spitting image of my Mom, there’s a good chance, if no one had ever told me, I’d never have any clue I’m adopted.

As we get older, many of us assemble our own families. It’s a pretty common truth that a lot of people aren’t born into families that understand them, support them, or share the same beliefs and interests to a degree that we all need. However, we find people we share no DNA with, but who nonetheless are present for the full complement of our lives, who understand us, and love us probably more than our own extended families. I consider those relationships adoptions as well, which, again, makes most people adopted. No paperwork required.

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